Editor’s Note: Missioner Maeve Gallagher shares how an incident with a friend caused her to reaffirm her decision to be a vessel of love and acceptance on mission.
“True enough, the Reverend Billing, when they caught up with him, turned out to be a thief, an adulterer, a libertine, and a zoophilist, but that didn’t change the fact that he had communicated some good things to a great number of receptive people. Billing went to jail, but no one ever arrested the good things he had released.” –John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Kristi* and I are friends. She’s worked at Valley as a dorm mom for several years and is a fair and understanding person. Her laugh, short and loud,–like a dog bark–is heard whenever someone makes a good joke. She can also be stern and speaks at a rapid-fire rate when she’s upset. We get along well and she jokingly refers to me as “the English teacher” when we greet each other.
Recently Kristi’s supervisor told me that she had caught her doing something that betrayed her trust of Kristi. It wasn’t a violent incident nor did it directly harm anyone, but the supervisor removed Kristi from her duties related to this event.
The supervisor didn’t tell her boss, but expressed to me how upsetting it was to her that this had occurred.
As she told me the story I felt my heart sink a bit lower into my body. Even though the situation had virtually nothing to do with me I felt like Kristi had done something to me personally.
The classic parental line, “I’m not mad, just disappointed,” popped into my head. As cliche as it is, it contains truth. I felt sad and let down, because while what Kristi had done didn’t have a direct consequence for me, it had consequences for Valley as an institution.
After I heard the story I made the decision to not treat Kristi any differently than I had before. At first I thought I wanted to do this because we’re friends and, for better or for worse, I’m a fiercely loyal friend. Maybe I wanted to overlook what had happened for the sake of our friendship.
I spend 95% of my time with the people I work and live with at Valley. I have an amiable relationship with everyone and perhaps I didn’t want to jeopardize my friendship with Kristi because we live in such close quarters.
So Kristi and I have been carrying on as usual, joking with each other in the hallways and spending our afternoons together helping the students with homework. Until I wrote this post, I hadn’t thought about her incident since I first heard the story. And I think that’s best.
Kristi was caught doing something wrong. Maybe she feels remorse, maybe not. That’s not my business. I’m not her supervisor, I’m her friend. Treating her differently or judging her after the fact would only alienate her. I’m not on mission to judge; I’m on mission to be a vessel that Christ can use to show His love.
*Name has been changed.
Reflection Question: In times when your first instinct is to judge someone, take a moment to pause before you do so. Instead of judging someone, how can you be the face of Christ for him or her instead?